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This is John Lewis' memoir of his time in SNCC during the Civil Rights Movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell.

It begins with Lewis preparing for the 2009 inauguration, and the contrast between that and the 1960s Jim Crow era was probably much more uplifting just a few months ago. As things are today, the book feels more necessary than ever. It's not as though the work stopped after the Voting Rights Act, after Obama's election, after anything, but there is so much more of it now.

Part of me wishes I had at least one experience of reading this before the election, with Obama still president, because those flashes to his inauguration in the comic, the hope that is so tangible, all of it is painful to read now.

I've known the general story of the Civil Rights Movement for almost as long as I can remember, having grown up reading those Scholastic biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. And I've learned much more about it later on, from how much community organization was going on to the many different groups and philosophies involved. That said, I found this comic to be a valuable addition, particularly the first-person narrative and the way the black-and-white illustrations grab you.

The three volumes cover all the big points up through the signing of the Voting Rights Act, from the lunch counter sit-ins to the bus boycotts to Freedom Summer and Selma and the March on Washington, but it's the little details within the big moments that make the comic so good. Ones that particularly struck me were the students who couldn't make it through the nonviolence training or the fear of being killed—I feel it's always so easy for people to say, "If I were there, I would have marched or protested or volunteered," but to be honest, I'm not sure I would have been brave enough, particularly as a college student. The stories of all the people who were killed while helping are pretty chilling, and I'm glad that the authors and artist make it very clear how dangerous it was and how the activists there didn't know if they would make it through or not.

Other moments: one of the people running the lunch counters shutting it down and fumigating it with the protesters still inside; the ways people still resisted even while they were in jail; how the activists set up check ins; and through it all, just how violent the pushback was to every single tiny step. I keep returning to that after reading all the justifications for police violence on the protesters today and how quickly just saying "no" becomes a reason to beat you down. It's not that I didn't know, but seeing it illustrated brings it home in a very particular way.

My one complaint is that I wish Lewis had gone more into how the movement started to splinter, how some people began to advocate for physically fighting back, or the increasing divide between SNCC and the SCLC and other organizations. Lewis hews to his nonviolent philosophy here while also trying to portray other people's points of view without demonizing them. I think his attempt to walk the line of upholding nonviolent resistance without condemning those who thought he sold out makes those parts a little too abstract; without the dialogue and arguments and examples of what happened in those clashes of philosophy, much of the power of the comic is lost.

I also wish he had gone into more detail because I would have found it extremely helpful for right now, when it feels like there's a different answer or strategy every day, and as a roadmap for making change with a large coalition of groups who frequently don't see eye to eye.

All in all, very worth reading, and I only wish it were longer and had more details about how to deal with splintering coalitions.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Jan. 15th, 2014 01:40 pm
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What I've read: Finished Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls! It's by far my favorite of her books, and now I kind of wish there were a version of Battle for Bittora done in rotating 3rd person POV, because I would have LOVED to see Pushpa Pande's sections. Hopefully a longer review to follow soon!

Also finished Chi's Sweet Home volume 2, which is just as cute and full of cat as the first volume. Definitely comfort reading for me, and I laughed especially hard at Chi getting mad at people ignoring her, climbing up on the table, and sitting down on the postcard people were looking at instead of where their attention should rightfully be focused (Chi, obviously).

What I'm reading: I finally started reading comics on my tablet! I say "finally" because that was the original reason I wanted a tablet in the first place. Anyway, I'm in the middle of the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman run (I blame [personal profile] chaila) and generally enjoying it. There are WAY more women than I usually see in superhero comics, though I am super skeeved out by Doctor Psycho and all the rape stuff he jokes about. I mean, you are supposed to be skeeved out, but given that the art is still male-gaze-y, it feels like one of those having your cake and eating it too things.

Also, totally get the appeal of Diana. She reminds me of why I like Captain America, at least in the MCU, and I really like that mostly her idealism and desire to do good and be good are genuine and not made fun of. It's so hard to find depictions of nice and good people who are interesting and have depth; most writers seem to save that for the morally ambiguous characters. And I looooove that she just goes ahead and makes decisions and her staff has to flounder to figure stuff out in her wake, and while she might apologize, she never angsts about it or questions her choices.

The art is mostly okay, given the genre? I think? I've never followed superhero comics closely, so I am not sure. I do love that Diana so far has very consistently been drawn with really broad shoulders and narrow hips; it's a silhouette I don't see very often on women. Still a lot of the twisted torso poses to get T&A in, and I rolled my eyes when one villain stepped out with her face entirely in shadow... but her naked body was of course visible!

It's also always weird getting into a new superhero/team and figuring out who the standard villains and secondary characters are. Various wiki articles help, but because comics is so convoluted, I hit a point when my eyes just glaze over as the details of betrayal! new allegiances! resurrection! secret identity! world resetting! and whatnot go on and on and on.

This is also interesting because it's my first foray into the DCverse that isn't centered around Gotham and its ilk.

What I'm reading next: Probably a lot more Wonder Woman.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)

Not listing out the trigger warnings, because they are a little spoilery, but assume a lot of triggers. PM or comment if you want to know more!

Spoilers are traumatized )

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Aug. 28th, 2013 01:31 pm
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Woe, it's been a while since I've had a Reading Wednesday post.

What I've read: I thought I had already made a post about reading Meljean Brook's Guardian Demon, but apparently not! Anyway, I'm hoping to write this one up in more detail. Like many of the other books in the Guardian series, I don't completely buy the romance and the plot doesn't always make sense, but somehow the books are greater than the sum of their parts. Possibly it's Brook's clear affection for worldbuilding along with romance. And of course, after I finished, I went on to reread bits and pieces of various other Guardian books.

I did not read for another week or so after that, but then I got the Kobo Aura HD, and I have now resumed reading 7 Seeds (currently in the middle of volume 14? 13?). It continues to be awesome, and I am especially glad to see certain characters reappearing.

I also caught up on the latest Skip Beat chapters! I think I am withholding judgement until I see what happens next. Also, the translation for some of them is terrible.

And I skimmed The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance, most of which I cannot remember, save the Victoria Janssen short story that I liked a lot. POC hero AND heroine! And a relatively unused romance time period (for the genre, not for the author) with a lot of period detail.

What I'm reading now: Finally found my places again in Spillover and Feed after uploading them to the new ereader, but I haven't made much progress in either. Also in the middle of a 7 Seeds volume. Also I am a few pages into Samit Basu's Gameworld trilogy book 1, but I don't count that as officially reading it yet.

Random book-shaped space: I miss reading manga! Being able to do it on the ereader is awesome, and the new one's larger screen makes them so much more legible. Anyway, I got Silver Spoon and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to read, but I feel like I'm completely behind on stuff, especially shoujo manga. Any good new shoujo series around?

... also, I should grab whatever Yuki Kaori is working on now.
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I really love the world of this movie: the claustrophobia of giant walls going up, the success then failure of the jaegers, how so many people were exhausted and tired of fighting, instead of just encountering the threat for the first time. It also gets points for having more than one speaking role for POC. On the other hand, I wish more of the supporting cast were POC as well and that Mako had more to do.

I'm also surprised that I've found little to no comparisons to anime in the write ups I've seen on my network! I know both Guillermo del Toro has said the movie is not based on Evangelion, and Travis Beacham says he wrote the bulk of the script before having seen the show/movies/franchise, but it feels as though the influence of the show is everywhere.

Spoilers for Pacific Rim )

I really wanted more of the world after watching the movie, so I checked out the Tales from Year One comic. Alas, while it had some good backstory, I found it largely skippable and rather annoying.

Spoilers )

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Jun. 19th, 2013 10:23 am
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What I've read: As people have probably noticed, I have read a fair amount of Tamura Yumi's 7 Seeds! It's a great post-apocalypse story about people trying to survive, and while it's extremely harrowing, I love a lot of the characters. I also like that it makes it clear that the will to survive doesn't have to strip you of your humanity or compassion. I would especially rec it to people who are not getting what they want from the current trend of YA SF dystopias (a la [personal profile] rachelmanija, "X is banned, and the government controls Y!").

What I'm reading: Still in the middle of 7 Seeds volume 11, since it has now been banned as before-bedtime reading.

What I'm going to read: Volume 12? Also, hopefully, volume 2 of Wandering Son, since it's very overdue at the library.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Note to self: Do not read this before going to bed, as it has narrative drive like whoa, and you will also be afraid to go to sleep for fear of APOCALYPSE.

Mildly spoilery note about amount of bug content )

Spoilers will see you in the future )

Anyway, if people couldn't tell, I am very much into this now and rec it for those of you looking for good post-apocalyptic stories! I think people who want something like the Hunger Games could just read volumes 7-9, though of course I encourage reading everything. It's not light and fluffy reading by any means, but as apocalypses go, this one is very good.

Does anyone else have links to 7 Seeds reviews? Hook me up!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
In lieu of Reading Wednesday, since this is basically what I read. I am so sad that I have to actually make myself sit and read manga again. *shakes fist at casual computer games*

16-year-old Natsu remembers eating dinner with her family, then wakes up to find herself on a raft with seven other people, none of whom she knows. They all have a little in terms of supplies, but it's clear they will soon have to forage and find water.

Later, we find that as insurance against a catastrophic meteorite hit, various governments have selected teams of people to be cryogenically frozen, only to be woken if the environment is once again habitable for humans. The series follows the five Japanese teams after an unspecified amount of time has passed from the presumed meteorite hit.

I wasn't particularly drawn in by the first volume, largely due to Natsu, who is terrified of everything. I feel kind of bad about this, since on an intellectual level, I actually appreciate having a character in a post-apocalyptic universe who is too embarrassed to ask people to stop so she can go to the bathroom. That is probably who I would be in those circumstances, as opposed to the survivalist characters who quickly learn to deal with lack of material comforts and killing things. Some of it is that her primary relationships with fellow team members are romantic/sexual in nature; she has a crush on teenager Arashi, who just wants to see his girlfriend again, and jerk Semimaru keeps sexually harassing her.

But! We are introduced to more characters later on, one of whom I already adore.

Spoilers I guess? Mostly for who is on another team )

I hadn't picked up Tamura Yumi prior to this, despite the praise that 7 Seeds and Basara get, mostly because her artwork is much older in style. I think I'm getting less put off by that in general, as I very much liked the art in Hagio Moto's The Heart of Thomas after I got used to it. And Skip Beat's art is a bit retro as well, though the recent volumes look more modern. Maybe it's the line work? Or the tones? Who knows. But I find myself really loving the giant sparkly eyes in 7 Seeds, especially when contrasted with the monster bugs.

Warning: there are a lot of monster bugs. They aren't rendered in nearly the same loving detail as in Black Rose Alice, but they're still pretty realistic and gross. Also, there are gross bug details that would have been even grosser if I hadn't already read a fair amount about parasites and insects and the creepy things they do.

... I like reading about them! But reading is a little different from seeing it illustrated!

Aside from the giant insects, I like the setting, especially once they get to the ruins of civilization. The look of skyscrapers overgrown with moss and trees reminds me a lot of the post-apocalyptic visions in X, and now I'm wondering if the same imagery appears in English language post-apocalyptic SF? Most of what I've read has been more along the line of barren landscapes and civilization buried under dirt, as opposed to drowned cities covered in greenery, but I don't know how much I've read.

I'm not at the "OMG LOVE!" stage, but I am very much anticipating getting to know the other teams, as well as watching interpersonal dynamics and more scenes of post-apocalyptic Japan.
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What I've just finished: Yotsuba 11! It is as cute and cheerful as all previous volumes in the series, and it encompasses dramatic events like Yotsuba's first experience with pizza, Duralumin getting slobbered on by a dog, Yanda bringing over bubble blowers, and bugs.

I also read Aliette de Bodard's On a Red Station, Drifting, which I enjoyed. I didn't really see the Dream of the Red Chamber connections until I read the author's notes, with the exception of a spaceship named after one of the characters. There's a comforting familiarity to the importance of magistrates and government officials and civil service that reminds me a lot of Chinese literature—I know the world is Vietnam-based, not China-based, but Wiki notes that the civil service examination system was modeled on China's. I also love the mention of fish sauce brewing as a fine art, and that one of the key conflicts happens while a character is writing poetry at a banquet. I didn't entirely understand all the shifts in the two main characters' attitudes, but overall, I prefer this to de Bodard's "Immersion," which won the Nebula. "Immersion" strikes me as being a little too on the nose, and while it makes a good point, I prefer how On a Red Station, Drifting incorporates more Vietnamese themes and background.

What I'm currently reading: I started book one of Alis A. Rasmussen's (aka Kate Elliott) Highroad Trilogy, but I haven't been able to track what's going on very well. I got a bit annoyed right off bat when I realized the martial-arts-practicing heroine is the lightest person in her brown family (I think she is POC? But she is described as pale so I am confused?), as well as when she rescues a robot early on and it devotes itself entirely to her. Still reading, and hopefully I will figure out what's happening soon.

I also started Jeffrey Brantley's Calming Your Anxious Mind, which is about using mindfulness to help with anxiety and fear. So far it's mostly been explanation of what mindfulness is and how it's effective as opposed to actual instruction, so I have no idea if it works or not.

I also started 7 Seeds volume 2 but am not very far into it.

What I'll read next: If I manage to finish book one of the Highroad Trilogy, probably book 2. Also, I keep meaning to read the latest Skip Beat chapter, so maybe that.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Apr. 17th, 2013 10:50 am
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What I've read: Finally finished review copy of Tokyo Demons and reviewed it! And because last week, I was craving fantasy + romance, I naturally blazed through Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo's Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art. It's a fun book about how con man John Drewe got artist John Myatt to forge hundreds of paintings. The difference in this con, though, isn't the techniques used to make the canvases pass scrutiny, but rather how Drewe created the provenance of each painting—the record of ownership, sales, location, and etc. of a painting. Since it can be difficult to tell a forgery via art style, dealers and auctioneers and buyers rely on a dependable provenance, and Drewe took advantage of this to sell off some paintings that would otherwise never have passed as real.

Drewe isn't a con man that I'm secretly rooting for; instead, even if Salisbury and Sujo's description of his compulsive lying and his terrible treatment of his common-law wife hadn't been there, I would have hated him just for sneaking into all those archives and doctoring so many documents. My morals, somewhat subjective...

And of course, now I want to read fast-paced non-fiction about cons or robberies or other elaborate schemes, which I am sure I will take recs for and them promptly be in a different mood in about two days. (I like the recs! Please keep it up! I might not get to them soon, but I do take note.)

I also read the latest chapter of Skip Beat, minor spoilers )

What I'm reading: I started Sherwood Smith's Once a Princess—good lord, she's published a lot lately! I didn't realize she had so much self-pubbed/small press stuff out; I hope it's going well for her. Lost some interest once it hit the secondary world due to not having enough processing power for worldbuilding. I'm also in the middle of Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite, which I am enjoying but cheated on with an art con book. And I started my Con or Bust review book. I got a few chapters in Bruce Schneier's Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive after reading Provenance, but then decided it was too research-y and less narrative than I was looking for.

What I'm reading next: A genre I have not talked about in this post? Hopefully I will keep going on Con or Bust book, along with starting a reread of Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis in preparation for Wiscon.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Apr. 10th, 2013 09:42 am
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What I've read: I finished Alison Bechdel's Fun Home after seeing her at a City Arts & Lectures event. The event itself was great; Bechdel herself isn't all too talkative, but there was a short video clip of her creating a comic page and discussion of her process, which I hadn't been expecting and was really interesting. I don't have much to say about Fun Home yet, especially since I'm still in the middle of her next memoir about her mother, but it's definitely worth reading, and I kind of wish I had read her stuff before going to see her. Oh well! At least it was incentive to get some of her books!

I also finished Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London, which I like, but possibly not as much as everyone else. As most people have said, the voice is fantastic, as is the sense of place, but every time I was getting into it, more murder mystery details showed up and I would promptly lose track of what was going on. Clearly plot brain has disappeared again.

A lot of Meljean Brook )

What I'm reading now: I'm still in the middle of Bechdel's Are You My Mother, which is an interesting experience because it has therapy and mothers, but Bechdel's relationship to her mother, problematic as it is, is very different from mine with my mother. (Me: I WISH my mom would not talk to me!) I also started Aaronovitch's Moon over Soho because I wanted to see how a few dangling threads at the end of Rivers of London were resolved, but now the mystery has hit and, predictably and sadly, I have lost interest.

What I'm reading next: Who knows! I feel like a fantasy + romance fun blend but don't like most paranormals and their more dominant than you heroes, but I can't really think of anything. I should also read vol. 2 of Wandering Son before it's due back at the library.
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Chromatic Press is running a Kickstarter to republish and finish Off Beat, as the third and final volume never got published. I actually saw this before and ignored it, I think because I had vague memories of checking out Off Beat and not being interested.

I am pretty sure I got it mixed up with another one of TokyoPop's OEL series though, because I got around to checking out a review, and it actually sounds pretty interesting. Gay teens in a story that doesn't sound like BL! (I like BL! I just also like LGBTQ representation outside of BL as well.) Apparently very rooted in Queens! Quirky sense of humor!

Anyone here read it? Impressions?
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Oh man, much as I am sad about not reading a lot of manga in the past few years, it does mean that binge catch ups are very fun!

This reading spree also included a reread of volumes 12-23, all prompted by CB starting to watch the Skip Beat anime. I really wish they would animate more of the manga!

Anyway, the series consistently cracks me up, and it was really fun tearing through so many volumes at once.

Spoilers must regain their precious human emotions! )
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Exclamation point! Even though I actually haven't read that much this week.

What I finished reading: Finally! I read some manga—vols. 4-6 of Ooku, which I've had out from the library for who knows how long. 4 and 5 were rereads, since I think I meant to post on them after the Ooku panel during Wiscon in 2011 and never quite got around to it. Now that the story has gotten to where the shoguns have become established as female, the story reads more as a historical recounting, although there are still some interesting bits on gender and gender roles. I'm not sure what I think about Yoshinaga's tendency to introduce one male true love per shogun (at least, per shogun adult enough to have one), and now that I think of it, it's odd how het-focused the relationships seem to be. Obviously there's the whole producing an heir bit and that Yoshinaga seems to focus mostly on relationships between the shogun and members of the Inner Chambers, but aside from one or two instances, there's not much mention of f/f or m/m, despite the Inner Chambers being nearly all male and most of Japan being 75% female. I find this particularly odd considering who the mangaka is. Anyway, hopefully I will be inspired to write an actual post later.

(Also, I keep looking up actual Tokugawa history in Wiki, and I love how the male pronouns for the shoguns are weirding me out now.)

What I'm reading now: Er. I basically started and fell out of various books: Courtney Milan's The Duchess War, the Con or Bust book, Ankaret Wells' Firebrand.

What I'm going to read: Hopefully I will get started on a light novel (my very first!), though I suspect I will actually be reading Ooku 7 as soon as I get it. I am ordering books and getting them in the mail again! I've mostly tried to stop buying physical books, since I still haven't unpacked a ton of boxes in my apartment, but there's no good eink substitute for manga, so physical copies it is.

I was browsing through my Amazon wishlists (which I have finally updated), and I feel like I have missed a generation's worth of manga. Sigh. I also really really really want to do a Skip Beat reread and catch up since CB started watching the SB anime and I am happily watching along with him. Kyoko! I forgot how hilarious you are!

I am also so tempted by the FMA manga boxset, as well as the remastered Utena DVDs.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Jan. 16th, 2013 12:37 pm
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What I am reading now
Started Kate Elliott's Cold Magic so I can catch up to the rest of my dwircle. So far, it's a bit slow, and the AU history bits in combination with bits of our world's history (i.e. the Napoleon equivalent) make my brain very confused. I think the plot has finally kicked off though, so yay.

What I just finished reading
Melina Marchetta's Quintana of Charyn, which I need to write up, and Hagio Moto's The Heart of Thomas. Thomas is a beautiful edition, but the size makes it a little hard to read now that I am accustomed to my light ereader. Also, I spotted some typos and etc =(. Still, SO HAPPY it is now available in a translation I can read!

What I plan on reading next
Who knows?! Probably Cold Fire once (if) I finish Cold Magic. Manga-wise, I have no idea. I feel so behind on everything that I'm overwhelmed, so I'm tempted to start a reread of X, since I got some of the shiny reissues for Christmas, or Fullmetal Alchemist so I can finally finish it.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
I feel a bit stupid introducing this series. Anyway.

When Gol D. Roger, King of the Pirates, was executed, it ended a golden age of piracy. Many years later, Monkey D. Luffy (Oda says in a note that "Monkey" is the surname) wants to grow up to be King of the Pirates, but he swallows a Devil Fruit called the Gum-Gum, making him sink in water, as well as giving him rubbery limbs. Undaunted, he decides to put together his own crew, traverse the Grand Line (a sea route with good piracy), and become King of the Pirates!

So far, volumes 1 through 8 are about Luffy acquiring his core crew, as well as their backstories. Volume 8 finishes the Restaurant Baratie arc and begins the arc with Arlong and the fish men. As with much manga, especially shounen, the first few volumes are more one-offs with short arcs, and although I like Roronoa Zolo, I was bored by the Usopp arc and annoyed by the requisite damsel in distress in it. I also have a difficult time following Oda's artwork. Much of it is my general inability to read action sequences, but I think some of it is because everything is so exaggerated and over-the-top that there's no resting place for the eyes yet. I suspect this is one of the things that will get better over time, and at least Oda's panels aren't as horrifically crowded as early volumes in other series are. The first 5 volumes or so were a bit tough going, since it was a lot of shounen tropes and fight scenes, and while I didn't enjoy the first half of the Restaurant Baratie storyline, the second half got me excited.

Snarky blond guys smoking cigarettes seem to do that to me, even if they aren't gun-toting priests.

Spoilers )

Reads a bit young so far, but the plot arcs have been getting larger and better.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
(original title: 海獣の子供/Kaijuu no kodomo)

I read volume 1 of this last April, so my recollection is extremely fuzzy and bolstered by Wiki.

Ruka, who has never quite fit in at school, chances upon an odd, dark-skinned boy named Umi ("ocean" in Japanese) one day. Later on, she meets him at the aquarium her father works at, where she also meets Umi's protector Jim Cusack. Meanwhile, odd things are happening around the world, such as ocean species being discovered far from their natural habitats, or reports of animals like whales dissolving into light. Umi's brother Sora ("sky" in Japanese) eventually shows up. We get a little backstory of how Jim came across the two boys, as well as what he thinks might be happening and why he thinks Umi and Sora are different from other people—they can stay underwater for longer and seem to be able to communicate with sea creatures.

Overall, this feels like a Honored Piece of Work that I don't quite get. Don't get me wrong; it's lovely. I particularly like the sketchy quality of the drawings, as well as how broad the world in the series feels. Umi and Sora are connected to events around the world, and I like that we get practical looks at Tokyo trains and mom-and-pop convenience stores along with more evanescent imagery of manta rays and undersea happenings. I also like that Ruka's parents are divorced (I think), that her mother is not the standard stay-at-home mom, and that there are many alternative family structures in the series.

I wish Igarashi's larger view of the world extended to race and racism. Unfortunately, Umi is so far the main non-Japanese POC character, and I have issues with how Igarashi portrays the more "primitive" island villages where Jim Cusack connects with the sea. Although Jim believes more in what the "natives" believe, there's still the divide between the white and Japanese world (the Japanese world, unsurprisingly, allies itself with the white world), which is science-y and has aquariums and is about Saving the Whales, and the superstitious brown people on their islands, who have mystical rituals and old folktales that might be Wiser Than Our Science.

I'm not sure how much Igarashi is going to deconstruct this in later volumes, but so far, it doesn't seem like there's much deconstruction. It more feels like the scaffolding he's building his tale on, which is rather unfortunate.

Overall, interesting, outside the usual shoujo and shounen areas, but I'm not sure if it's outside enough in some ways.
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In which I make my yearly foray into superhero comics, usually Batverse.

I heard about this arc as an origin story for a new version of Batwoman, in which Kate Kane is discharged from the Marines for refusing to say she's not gay. In Elegy, we get her flashback origin story, in which she dons the cape and mantle as a new way to serve and protect, along with the story of how she encounters the new leader of the Religion of Crime.

The art is gorgeous: I especially love the bright reds and deep blacks when Kate is Batwoman. There are some small takes on the superhero outfit that may or may not be new—I don't read very many of them—and I especially loved the wig. I also like how the color palette shifts to warm, golden tones when Kate is out of costume. Although her body shape is the usual female superhero curvy when she's in the Batwoman uniform, all hourglass waist and round hips and large breasts, when she's out of costume, she looks much blockier, with broad shoulders that she tends to emphasize with suit jackets and the like.

I felt as though her sexual orientation was organic to the story; the emphasis is actually more on her Marine background and how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" influences her to get on the superhero path. Also, teeny cameo of Lt. Dan Choi!

I rolled my eyes a little at the backstory for the villain, but people who like superhero comic tropes may enjoy it. It's definitely no different from all the Angsty Backstories I so adore in manga.

I also love Kate's relationship with her father, though I wish a little that her story wasn't one more to add to the Dead or Missing Mother pile.

Overall, a good, fast read, but I'm still sticking with my "only reading superhero comics via giant compilations" resolution.

ETA: Non-spoiler text Batverse spoilers in the comments! (Please feel free to spoil me since I am never caught up and probably never will be.)
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
(original title: うさぎドロップ)

Daikichi's grandfather has just died, and at the funeral, his entire family discovers that the strange child in the garden is his grandfather's illegitimate daughter, and no one knows where her mother is. No one wants to take care of Rin (the child), so Daikichi steps up to the plate, despite many misgivings.

The first two volumes are about Daikichi adjusting to having a young child in his life, and I love the manga for how it looks at parenting. Daikichi finds that he has to make quite a few sacrifices, such as going with a lower-paying job with less chances of promotion so he can make it home on time to pick Rin up from day care. I also like him reflecting back on his mother and the difficult choices she had to make, as well as how his father never had to make those same choices. It's not necessarily a feminist work, but I think it takes a real look at the inequities in parenting and how society in Japan (and I think in the US too) is not set up to help single parents and is set up so that parenting is solely the mother's responsibility.

Rin is a cute six-year-old, but she also comes with her fair share of problems, which I didn't feel as though the mangaka trivialized. Daikichi gets frustrated with her, but you always get the sense that he cares for her, and my favorite part of the manga is watching the two of them bond and watching Rin slowly learn to depend on Daikichi for the support she never really got.

So far, the art is charming but a little rough around the edges; I especially felt as though the mangaka was still figuring out how to use screentones. Sometimes the stark black-and-white art works, but more often, it feels empty and unfinished to me.

Cute, and I will keep reading it. I wish there were more stories about single fathers out there. I also like how the series hasn't been demonizing single mothers, from Rin's missing mother to other mothers Daikichi meets along the way.


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October 2017

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